So, SPG has announced its annual category changes for 2016. The number of points needed to redeem a free night in each of the 7 categories has not changed, but hotels have moved up and down between categories.
As a reminder, here are the points needed in each category
All in all, 168 hotels are going up in price (~12% of all SPG hotels), and 114 hotels are going down in price (~8% of all SPG hotels).
Remember that the category of hotel is not strictly related to its quality, although the best hotels in Starwood’s portfolio are in the Cat 6 and 7 brackets. Category changes are driven by forecast occupancy for the upcoming year- if occupancy rates are expected to stay high, categories go up.
Changes will take place on 1 March. If you book before 1 March, you can get properties at the existing prices. If you currently hold a booking for a stay at a property that is going down in price, you can cancel and rebook after 1 March to get a refund of the points difference (be sure there is availability before you cancel!)
Whether this is good or bad for you depends on your travel patterns. Some observations relevant to me
- Four Points by Sheraton Bangkok going up from Cat 2 to Cat 3
- Le Meridien Bangkok going up from Cat 3 to Cat 4
- Westin Grande Sukhumvit Bangkok going up from Cat 3 to Cat 4
- Westin Singapore going up from Cat 4 to Cat 5
- Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort going up from Cat 4 to Cat 5
- Laguna Bali going up from Cat 5 to Cat 6
- W Retreat & Spa Bali going up from Cat 6 to Cat 7 (!)
- St Regis Mumbai going down from Cat 4 to Cat 3 (possibly the cheapest St Regis anywhere?)
- St Regis Bangkok going down from Cat 6 to Cat 5
- Le Meridien Bali Jimbaran going down from Cat 4 to Cat 3
Category changes rarely work out in your favor, but given that I’ve got a few trips to Mumbai coming up I’m looking forward to trying out the St Regis again. I am concerned at the increase in category prices in Bangkok, which has historically been the best market to get 5 star hotels on the cheap. The mantle of lowest cost redemption in Bangkok now resides with Aloft at the Cat 2 price point.
I’m still locked in for 3 nights at the hopefully amazing Vana Belle Koh Samui (no category change there, and remember you can get 30% off redemption prices here) with a full trip report to follow in March, so stay tuned!